Soccer club plays socially distant game, loses 37-0 to merciless rival

An amateur German soccer team fielded a socially distant seven-man roster against a rival on Sunday, in an effort to avoid contracting the coronavirus from their opponents.

The other team responded by effectively kicking their butts, scoring nearly every two minutes against a lonely goalkeeper to win the game 37-0.

The SG Ripdorf/Molzen II football club effectively threw the game as a precautionary measure. Their opponent, SV Holdenstedt II, had come in contact with a player who tested positive for COVID-19 in a previous game, and management was worried about potentially spreading the virus throughout the league.

Holdenstedt’s coronavirus test results came back negative, but Ripdorf was still concerned because the 14-day quarantine period had not passed.

Ripdorf players worried about contracting the virus, according to Germany’s NDR News. They also worried about facing a fine for not playing the game because Holdenstedt refused to cancel or postpone it.

Ripdorf ultimately sent out seven players who immediately gave up the ball, then stood aside to avoid contact with Holdenstedt players for the rest of the game.

The sham of a game played out in the 11th tier of German football in Uelzen, Lower Saxony on Sunday.

Video shows the Ripdorf players keeping their distance during the game while Holdenstedt players fired in goal after goal.

“We are thankful to those seven players who volunteered, otherwise the club would have faced a 200-euro fine for abandoning the match,” Patrick Ristow, Ripdorf’s co-chair, told ESPN. “That’s a lot of money for us, especially amid the pandemic.”

Ristow says the other team showed no mercy, even in the face of his team’s precautionary approach.

“There was no reason not to play this game,” Holdenstedt coach Florian Schierwater said, according to BBC News.

“The Holdenstedt players did not understand,” Ristow said. “But we did not want to risk anything. For the rest of the match, our players returned to the field but they only stood on the pitch.”

The incident triggered a flurry of opinions on social media in Germany. In the end, Ristow stood by his decision.

“There is no perfect solution for it, and we went down this route,” Ristow said. “We wished Holdenstedt no harm.”

—With files from Reuters

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